By Susan Donovan, Director of Fitness & Wellness Services
Our world has been hit by this pandemic. Whether we are directly impacted or not, we have all been affected in one way or another. It might be worrying a bit more about the health of our family and friends, disruptions in our sleep or, for many, a drastic shift in everyday routines.
During a time when the media seems to target our deepest uncertainties and fears, staying physically and mentally strong is of utmost importance. Although we can’t change the events that are unfolding, we can control our mindset and reduce our stress—even when we are stuck at home!
You may begin to realize how dependent you’ve become on exercise as a coping technique. When this is removed, it can be extremely detrimental to both our physical and emotional health.
With our JCC closing, many of us aren’t able to maintain our everyday workout routine. Thankfully, modern-day technology has allowed us the incredible capability to do a variety of workout classes in our own homes. However, if an at-home workout isn’t for you, there are alternative ways to keep active and manage your stress with outdoor activities.
WALKING is one of the best activities that everyone can do! If the weather permits, get out for a 30-minute walk at a brisk pace at least 5 days a week. You can use an app or pedometer to meet the U.S. Surgeon General’s moderate goal of 10,000 steps. The average person takes between 2,000 and 2,500 walking steps per mile. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise—which means it's good for bone health—and helps build cardiovascular endurance.
RUNNING or JOGGING are terrific cardiovascular activities that will improve your stamina. Running steps have a longer stride length; you may take between 1,400 and 1,700 steps per mile. A total of 10,000 steps equals 4 to 5 miles. Running can put more stress on the knee, ankle and hip joints so it may not be for everyone. The key is to start off slowly and increase your time or distance by no more than 10% each week. For both running and walking activities, it is important to get a good pair of shoes. Pay attention to the surface on which you run. Paths and grass are softer, but they're uneven and could have holes. Concrete is harder, but good shoes help absorb shock.
CYCLING is another excellent cardiovascular choice. It is also a great way to explore your community, bike paths and trails. It's important, however, to make sure your bike is fitted properly to your body to avoid putting too much stress on your back or knees.
HIKING uses a lot of up-and-down movement, so you get a tremendous leg workout along with the cardiovascular benefits. It can provide a relaxing atmosphere with scenic trails and wildlife, and may not seem like a workout at all.
WATER SPORTS and ACTIVITIES, such as kayaking, are great for upper body muscles. Paddle boarding is an effective core exercise while swimming is a great and very joint-friendly total body workout. Of course, these activities require specific equipment and good weather.
Pick the activity that best suits your needs and interest and, most importantly, something you enjoy doing. Focus on your breathing, enjoy your favorite music, and appreciate the fresh air and scenery. It’s time for reflection, and simply clearing your head while getting some healthy activity.